The fluidity of sleeping arrangements

When my kids were younger, there wasn’t much question about sleeping arrangements: the babies slept with us. As they got a bit older, they moved onto a smaller bed I built where the mattress was exactly the same height as our big bed (we called it the “sidecar”) and then even older, maybe two or so, on a mattress on the floor in our room. Now that my youngest is 7 and oldest is 14, however, I’m surprised at how fluid our sleeping arrangements have become.

The youngest still likes to curl up with me and fall asleep knowing that she’s safe and protected, and frankly I’m not quite ready to get to the stage of my kids all being independent and done with reading books, whispered conversations and my singing them to sleep either. Still, she has her own room, and once she’s asleep, she knows that I’ll move her there, safely ensconced in her bed and surrounded by favorite stuffies.

If we have had a relatively calm day, the older two (A-, 14 and G-, 10) generally  share sleeping quarters in one of their rooms, but if they’re freaked out by something (like us watching a scary show or a creepy book) they might end up taking over the floor of my room.

This random sleeping used to drive me a bit bonkers, truth be told, as I’m the kind of person who finds order and predictability comforting and when I never really knew who was going to sleep where, well, it caused some tension. Then I just … let go.

So in my house, who sleeps where seems a bit more fluid than in most houses, but as an attachment parent, I feel like it’s a blessing for me to be able to let them decide where they want to sleep and a very positive sign that they find it safer to be sleeping with me than otherwise, even as teens (well, a teen and a teen wannabe). 🙂

How about at your house?  What’s your sleeping arrangement like on a typical evening?

Author: Dave Taylor

Dave is a single dad with three children, a 15yo daughter, 11yo son and 8yo daughter, and blogs about life and parenting both here at API and at his popular Go Fatherhood Blog.

15 thoughts on “The fluidity of sleeping arrangements”

  1. awesome!

    at my house we have a 2 month old and a 3 year old…it seems we play a lot of musical beds! the 3yo moved into his own bed from our bed around his second birthday and since then he’ll usually come join us in the mornings…although some nights he comes in mid night…with the newest member of our family taking up the middle between mom and dad now when he joins us it all depends on the time of night as to where mom moves to…

    some nights i will just stick it out and be squashed between my two young lovelies, other nights i’ll take the littlest and we’ll go sleep in 3yo’s bed, and other nights i’ll go to the living room couch.

    i don’t mind really! some nights can be tiring but it’s worth it to know that we can give comfort whenever they need!

    it’ll be fun to learn what 2mo girl’s sleeping will be like!

  2. Generally, our two-month-old sleeps snuggled up with me so that she can night-nurse. I actually hold her in the crook of my arm all night, which is both sweet and slightly neck-wrenching.
    Our just-turned-three-year-old snuggles up between us to fall asleep and then is moved to the foot of our bed where she sleeps across it, perpendicular to our feet. It works for us and we love it.

  3. I too still love reading the stories and cuddling with my 7-year old. I’m going to miss when this stage is gone. We usually read one of our books and cuddles in her room and on her bed. She sleeps so peacefully this way. She was a co-sleeper all the way until 5 but off and on around 6. She really did grow into it naturally on her own without needing no pushing or prodding. With this came this knowing that she is safe and secure and was ready on her timetable. I wouldn’t trade how we did this ever.

  4. i can identify! i used to say we play musical beds. lol. i think we finally have it figured out for a while. our 3 year old and 1 year old sleep together on a queen mattress on the floor in their room (used to be our master bedroom) and we moved our room downstairs. I read to them in bed, nurse the baby while tickling the toddlers back (if possible) and sing to them. then i leave. on rough nights i sleep with them.

  5. thank you for posting this! it’s hard for us with young ones to imagine what the future will look like. right now, the name of the game is “musical beds” and it is annoying at times, but mostly wonderful. i have taken to the phrase, “Everyone, go pick a bed or spot and get in it and go to sleep, please!” it totally works. i love watching how their stage of life often correlates with the place they choose to sleep– if they are doing some growing and stretching of their independence during the day hours, it is almost certain that they will come back to the family bed until they feel secure in their new “bigger kid” role. i love it!

    1. Is it you and you kid alone? I ask this because I was a single parent then came into a relationship. It was ok at first for my kid to be with us then it wasn’t. Now he left and thinks he can play house once a week and doesn’t think hoe it effects the kids. We had one together. It is ok for the youngest but not the oldest? I have them co-sleep with me in my king bed when ever they want. Except for when he comes over. He has a control issue I think. I don’t want the oldest to think neg. any more! I guess I am just trying to get more of your storey and how it works for you guys.

  6. On most nights, I curl up in my kids’ room, nestled in a little twin bed with my 3 -year old daughter. We sing a little song together and then try to fall asleep while my son conks out quickly in his nearby bed. Daddy stays up for awhile and goes to sleep in the grown-up bed in another room so that he isn’t awakened by all the midnight madness that sometimes happens.

    Sometimes, on nights when I have worked late, I get to sleep in the grown-up bed, and my husband sleeps with our daughter. Inevitably, she will wake up at 4 am and come find me, climb into the big bed and nestle in closely under my arm the way has ever since she was an infant in the hospital, and then fall peacefully to sleep. I relish the fact that I can be there during all these different sleeping moments — because what it means to me, and what it means to my kids, is that Mommy is here for them. And that to me is worth it all.

  7. You know I was one of those mom’s that was going to have the babies sleeping in a bassinet next to the bed then when they out grew that they would just go to their crib. Then came my first child (she is now 5). She did not know about my plan so she of course had other ideas. She did sleep in the bassinet but only for a few months she liked sleeping between mommy and Daddy with Parker (the dog) at her feet. So 5 years latter she is still snuggled next to me with the dog under her feet. 19 months ago we had a little boy and he and Daddy sleep in one room and Mommy and Daughter sleep in another – its the only way Daddy and son sleep becuase Mommy and Daughter both snore like freight trains and the other two sleep so soundly.

    You see my preconcieved notions that kids should not sleep with their parents came from my mom but I am so glad/happy that my kidds and husband had different ideas.
    I love our sleeping arangment and I just don’t listen to what other people say any more – it works for us and we all sleep better for it.

  8. Great comments so far, but I want to add a quick note to you, Jill, as a single dad: be aware that there’s a cost to your relationship when you and your partner sleep in separate rooms, just as there is having little folk in the bed (or bedroom). No reading in bed together, lest the light wake up one of the kiddos, and considerably less intimacy – if any – for that same reason. I really hope you two are compensating with other daily intimate moments to keep the flame burning between you two…

    1. Dave, Thanks so much for the comment. I think we have that taken care of. Both kids are normaly in bed by 7 no latter then 730 and we don’t go to bed until around 9ish. we also know how important it is to have personal time so he still hunts, fish, and floats with the guys and I have a scrapbooking night every month. I agree that as parents we still need to be a couple and that can be very difficult at times but we work through it together.

  9. Our house has completely thrown the rules out the window in favor of comfort and peace. hehehehe. my husband wants privacy when he sleeps. my snoring bugs him. the baby waking occasionally as well as the occasional overnight with our baby grand daughter insisting on joining the night crew is more than he can cope with in his pursuit of rest. Now my husband lays with us in our bed for night night snuggles and good night moon or elmo tuck in adventures until our little one(s) asleep. we get up and have our own time together, then he heads to his bed and i climb back into mine where we all rest happily. Sometimes one of my teens comes to join us. in the morning our 18 month old son wakes up and sleepily calls to his dad who climbs in with us to cuddle and blow raspberries for awhile until we all roll out of bed ready for a new day. very satisfying for us.

  10. I know this is an old post, but i’ve got insomnia and came upon it – i can barely type because the huge paws of my 11 year old boy wonder over to land on my face from time to time – still co-sleeping, but with fluidity as well. From time to time my 11 year old says “I’m going to sleep in my room tonight” and I say “ok” – it has not really happened yet, as we bush and floss he says “well, maybe another night” and I say “ok”. One day he will be grown with a family of his own, for now, I stay fluid…..(helps to be a happily single mom!)

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